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Simon Harris says allegiance of protesters is 'not to our Republic'

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said that the allegiance of the people who protested outside his Wicklow home at the weekend did not lie with the Republic.

“Their mask slipped, we see now where their allegiances lie and it is not to our Republic,” he told RTÉ radio’s News at One.

Members of a group that calls itself the Fingal Battalion Direct Action Group suggested they were present because of the comments last week by Mr Harris when he said that the actions of self-styled “revolutionary party,” Saoradh who paraded in paramilitary style through Dublin on Easter Saturday, “must be examined and not allowed to happen again”.

One of the group’s online comments read: “Simon slatted [sic] people who commemorated our fallen hero’s [sic] but Simon needs to know he would never be commemorated in this country as he’s one of Ireland’s biggest embarrassments.”

Mr Harris said the activity outside his home in Greystones was not a protest, “it’s an attempt to intimidate. This is the second time they have visited my home. It causes huge disruption to my family, my neighbours and the gardaí.”

The Minister said that the gardaí are doing a wonderful job.

It’s very important to send a message that as a people, as a Republic we don’t support their actions. I know the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner are going to continue to monitor the situation.

When asked about his plans for an alliance of health professionals to combat misinformation about vaccinations, Mr Harris said he had asked the Attorney General for advice about the possibility of introducing mandatory vaccination.

“I’m trying to ignite a debate. Mandatory vaccination is a possibility. Vaccination should be the norm, otherwise it’s putting other kids at risk. Eleven countries have already taken steps on mandatory vaccination.”

He said it is a matter of balancing a child’s rights and the public good to eradicate diseases. Health professionals want to push back against misinformation.

In relation to mortuary facilities in University Hospital Waterford, the Minister confirmed that a mobile refrigerated unit will be in place this week.

“There is an obligation to make sure that these things are managed and that people’s dignity is maintained.”